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Bitcoin and SA law

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With the rise in popularity of cryptocurrencies, and more particularly, Bitcoin, the question which isn’t immediately thought of by investors is: how do cryptocurrencies fit into your estate plan and have you accounted for them? KEZIA TALBOT, Legal Adviser, BDO Wealth Advisers sheds some light.

Whilst the Reserve Bank, in its Position Paper on cryptocurrencies, has determined that cryptocurrencies are not legal tender, this does not mean that the cryptocurrency which you own is not deemed to be an asset in your estate for all other purposes. Cryptocurrencies are, however, subject to the normal principles of income and capital gains tax, depending on the taxpayer’s intentions. Therefore, they will be treated as an asset in your estate for both executor’s fees and estate duty purposes, if your executor is even aware of the cryptocurrency which you own.

It would be tragic if, for instance, your entire estate comprised the ownership of several bitcoins, but your financial planner or attorney was not aware of this when assisting you with your estate planning and the drafting of your Will, and later on, when administering your estate, as this would result in your heirs receiving little to no inheritance, whilst your estate could be worth several hundreds of thousands of Rand.

Bearing in mind the anonymous nature of cryptocurrencies and the manner in which you hold ownership of the cryptocurrency, it would be virtually impossible for your executor to trace your holdings and properly account for them if they have not been brought to his or her attention. Furthermore, by not including your cryptocurrency in your estate plan, it will be likely that the liquidity calculations performed during estate planning will be inaccurate, thereby impacting on the estate administration process.

As the value of cryptocurrency, by its very nature, is volatile and not generally affected by the same events which affect traditional currencies, it will be difficult to calculate precisely what the effect on your estate will be, from a tax point of view. But this value should be assessed each time you meet with your financial planner, to determine the impact at that point.

So, how do you deal with cryptocurrency in your estate?

In order to understand this, it is necessary to go back to basics and understand how cryptocurrency transactions, and in this case, bitcoin transactions, work:

Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator/s of bitcoin, defines bitcoin as “a chain of digital signatures. Each owner transfers to the next by digitally signing a hash of the previous transaction and the public key of the next owner and adding these to the end of the coin. A payee can verify the signatures to verify the chain of ownership.”

Unlike traditional currencies, bitcoins do not exist in a physical form. Most bitcoin owners have bitcoin wallets, which reflect the value of your bitcoins.  In reality, however, the wallet contains the keys to your bitcoins.

As the keys are crucial for transferring ownership or spending your bitcoin, it is the keys which need to be protected and practically dealt with by your executor.

If a key is lost or no longer accessible, then, in essence, you will have lost your bitcoin.

The challenge, therefore, is to make your executor aware of your ownership of bitcoin and to ensure that he or she has access to the keys.

Without delving into the technical aspects of this discussion, a few options would be to: make a backup copy of your wallet and store same on an external hard drive, which your executor will know how to access, or ensure that you have transcribed the access details for the wallet in a separate document, addressed to your executor. Both the backup and/or the document setting out your access details for your wallet will need to be stored in a secure place, only identified to your spouse, executor or other trusted person, as these details are tantamount to your internet banking login details.

Lastly, it may be necessary to review your current Will or have a new Will drafted, in order to ensure that you have nominated an executor who would be comfortable dealing with these types of assets, and to ensure that your wishes regarding these and other assets, are correctly reflected.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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